Our Attention Span — Shorter than a Goldfish

gayle.goossen
DATE: June 22nd, 2016
POSTED BY: Gayle

shutterstock_123823945

In a world where a goldfish has a greater attention span than a human, where there are 500 million 140 character tweets flung out a day and Google is considered by most young people the only research tool – well, we need to understand that unless people are doing academic research or immersing themselves in a subject, advertisers need to hone their messages to smart, short, snack-sized bits.

It all started with Sesame Street….

For 46 seasons, Sesame Street has been serving preschools a steady diet of bite-sized content – content snacks.  The original goal was to “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”.

Men and women who are now parents – well, some are already grandparents, grew up on small chunks of content that both entertained and informed. So the buzz of about “snackable content” is just that buzz.

We have been learning in small bite-sized pieces for a very long time. When I took piano lessons, my teacher (who would now be around 150 – she seemed remarkably old when I was 10), told me to break the music into chunks so I could learn it more easily. In the olden days (which may be returning) as we memorized poems and speeches, we did so in pieces – small bits at a time to help our memory learn better.

So let’s get over the nonsense about the modern bits and pieces being bad for learning – Learning comes in many sizes.  Content should be delivered in many formats, varying lengths and multiple vehicles.

There are many different ways to deliver content:

  •               Video
  •               Infographics
  •               Blog
  •               Booklet
  •               Newsletter
  •               Direct mail package
  •               Social media (short and visual)
  •               Email
  •               Web site
  •               Digital advertising
  •               Magazine ads and content pages
  •               Outer media
  •               Unaddressed mail
  •               Brochures
  •               Annual Reports
  •               Point of Purchase
  •               Catalogues
  •               Publications
  •               Wearables

We can go on. One web sites boasts 275 different communication venues and vehicles.

Every one of them starts with understanding the goal and then the audience.  Once we have articulated our goal we can build the strategy – which includes content development and the vehicles to deliver that content.

Writing snack –sized content is essential.

Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean you ONLY write snack-sized.

But snack-sized matters.

You can tease people into longer articles and many people will dive into them, but your bites have to be satisfying, fun and sufficient to get the message across.
shutterstock_165286076

Remember that images are content too – and in social media – image matters. Moving images matter more. But the image must be able to hold its own. Over 80% of people using Facebook do so without using audio – so if your message is dependent on audio, you’ll miss a large segment of the audience.

So snack away — it’s good for you.

Leave a Reply